Not all psychologists perform psychotherapy or work in the field of mental health. In fact, many psychologists work in applied psychology careers to solve real-world problems or research different aspects of the human mind and behavior.
If this sounds like something that might interest you, be sure to check out some of the surprising careers in psychology that might not have considered.
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Spotlight on Applied Psychology Careers
If you are still debating which career in psychology is right for you, then you might want to spend some time considering the growing field of health psychology. Health psychologists focus on how biological, social and psychological factors influence health and illness. The major goals of health psychology include promoting health, preventing illness, understanding the causes of illness and improving the health care system.
Health psychologists work in a wide variety of settings that include hospitals, universities, health clinics and government agencies.
So what exactly do health psychologists do? A few of the issues they might deal with include:
- Teaching stress reduction strategies
- Helping clients with weight management
- Running smoking cessation programs
- Improving daily nutrition for clients
Industrial-organizational psychology (or I-O psychology) is a growing field that can be a great option for those interested in applied psychology careers. Industrial-organizational psychologists focus on issues related to workplace behavior and performance. These professionals usually have at least a master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology, experimental psychology, or a related area.
I-O psychologists work in a wide variety of settings that include universities, research facilities, private businesses and government agencies. Some psychologists in this field are self-employed or work on a consultation basis.
A few of the issues that industrial-organizational psychologists may tackle include:
- Improving worker productivity
- Improving human and computer interaction
- Employee training and assessment
- Training program development
Criminal psychology is often described as a “hot” specialty area right now, largely thanks to the depictions of the job on a number of television dramas. Related to the field of forensic psychology, criminal psychologists perform a number of important tasks including assessing suspected criminals, evaluating the likelihood that a convicted criminal may become a repeat offender, and making education guesses about the actions that a suspect may have taken after committing a crime.
But is being a criminal psychologist really as dramatic and exciting as it seems on TV? According to Marc T. Zucker, chair of the undergraduate School of Criminal Justice at Kaplan University, such fictionalized portrayals usually exaggerate the role that criminal psychologists play in solving crimes. “We all love the thrill of the chase and arrest, however, psychologists don’t typically accompany officers in the apprehension of suspects,” he explained in one article.
While this job might not be exactly like what you see on TV, it’s far from boring. Other experts point out that the field continues to evolve, which means that criminal psychologists can always find new challenges to test their skills. For example, some professionals now specialize in computer-related crimes such as online fraud and sex crimes.
If you’ve ever wondered about whether this field might be right for you, be sure to check out this criminal psychologist career profile to learn more about the duties, work settings, salaries and training needed to enter this profession.
Do you enjoy learning about human genetics? Does helping people make health decisions based upon their genetic information sound appealing to you? If your answer to these questions is yes, then you might be interested in the growing field of genetics counseling.
A genetics counselor is someone who offers advice and support to people at risk of inherited illness. Genetics counselors often work with other health care professionals including doctors and geneticists to help patients make decisions and explore their treatment options. For example, a pregnant woman might meet with a genetics counselor to learn more about possible preventative measures she might take after genetic testing shows that she has an inherited gene mutation that might put her at a greater risk for miscarriage.
While meeting with a client, a genetics counselor might obtain a family health history, discuss genetic disorders, talk about risk factors, offer treatment advice and refer the client to other specialists or resources in the community.
Do you enjoy researching human behavior? If you have a passion for solving problems or exploring theoretical questions, you might also have a strong interest in a career as an experimental psychologist. Experimental psychologists study a huge range of topics within psychology, including both human and animal behavior.
Experimental psychologists work in a wide variety of settings including colleges, universities, research centers, government and private businesses. Some of these professionals may focus on teaching experimental methods to students, while others conduct research on cognitive processes, animal behavior, neuroscience, personality and many other subject areas.
Developmental psychologists study growth and development that occurs throughout the entire lifespan. This includes not only physical development, but also cognitive, social, intellectual, perceptual, personality and emotional growth.
The study of human development is important not only to psychology, but also to biology, anthropology, sociology, education and history. Developmental psychologists help us better understand how people change and grow and then apply this knowledge to helping us live up to our full potential.
Learn more about the field of developmental psychology.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of applied psychology careers out there. If you are interested in working in the field of psychology and want to use your skills and knowledge to help solve real-world problems, a career in an applied field might just be a great choice for you.
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